Chris Pike : Going for a Walk

Running, speed, muscles flowing, limbs pumping, blood pounding through veins, lungs working like massive bellows, ligaments expanding and contracting, the whole body flowing as if water poured from a jug. He ran, through the field, muscled legs powering him high up into the air, over a hedge, landing in the next field, a jump of impossible lengths, no human could have hoped in their wildest dreams to have performed such a feat, yet he did it with ease, without a catch in his almost constant motion. He charged through the knee-high grass, sometimes running on all fours, sometimes upright as a man would, bent forward at an impossible angle, he ran. The night was clear, well, clear as any night, stars, moon so bright as to mock the sun. Feeling not the slightest hint of exhaustion, he accelerated, until the buzzing in his limbs, and cycle of his breathing told him that he had reached his maximum speed. He cleared another hedge line, not even noticing it, his eyes and legs had reached an agreement that did not need his brain, holes in the ground, the unevenness of the soil, nothing bothered him as he ran. Several minutes later, he slowed down, until he was loping through the fields, still graceful, still full of purpose, with the moonlight on him, the idea of a deer traversing the wood came to mind, or more appropriate in his case, a wolf. Finally, he stopped altogether, standing still as a tree, in the middle of a field. He crouched down, now a bush in moonlight; he rested with his elbows on his knees, enjoying the sweat pouring down his body. If anybody was to bear witness to this midnight madness they would have said he was sitting, waiting for a scent to be carried on the light wind, the scent of prey perhaps. His battle computer came on-line, his vision was filled with read-outs, scrawling information superimposed on the glossy night. The computer plotting his route that he had just taken from the drop-off zone, in the eventuality of the creature loosing consciousness, the comp was cable of taking control of his motor-functions and getting him home, and he's just be along for the ride. His perimeter system came on-line, once the battle comp: the parent implant was running, all the others would now function. His nostrils flared as he breathed in the scent on the breeze, deep-breaths into his lungs. For him, the breeze carried a plethora of experience, smells of the grass, the bark and sap on the trees along the hedgerow, the oil leak from a tractor that was days old. He could capture it all now. He let out a ping, witch spread out through the area, and came back to him, another and another. If any thing were moving within several hundred yards, he would know about it just as if he had seen it with his eyes. The comp was processing all this information as it came in. He was quite capable of doing it himself, the comp was like a little man looking over his shoulder, a school teacher making sure he was doing everything right. If something happened in his vicinity, if a creature moved, a sound made, the comp would lean over, tap him on the shoulder and point it out. He grinned slightly at the influx of information. Calling up a compass and a grid with a contour map of the area he knew where he was, within a meter on the planet. His comp fed in by numerous relays information from a global-positioning-satellite, much like the Magellan's of old. He was the ultimate navigator now, on land, sea and air, he would never be lost again. This field was empty of wildlife, not even a shrew, the smallest of birds, or even a fox, called this home. One might stand back and call this odd, it was, but he knew why. Slowly he started to walk hunched over in an apparently random direction to the imagined observer, he picked up speed until he was loping again, using an element of caution now as he closed with his target. The old farmhouse was not really a farmhouse at all anymore. Time had patiently torn the roof down, rotted the wood, and crumbled the stone walls. Time had cultivated the weeds to grow higher and regain what was once theirs. It had ceased being a habitation for any level of human life a long time ago, nothing more then a few stone walls holding each other up, a yard and a pathway. A figure stood within the ghost of a room, looking at its surroundings with faint disdain, and yet a little curl at the corner of the mouth that would perhaps indicate amusement. It shook it's head slightly, letting a chuckle escape on the wind. The figure was clad in a fine suit, a business suit usually worn by those who had an ultimate grasp in fashion, and corporate taste. Black leather gloves covered this figures hands, and a dark, severe-looking coat slung over the shoulders with an eccentric flare. This expensive looking figure was quite a sight amongst the old stones. His name was Ballard. As he landed softly, the runner came into sight of the farmhouse. He slowed to a stop and waited. His eyes used the moonlight as an ambient light source and amplified until in his little world, it was bright as day. He could pick out every detail of the farmhouse now. He could not tell if anybody was inside it yet however. He naturally toned his sight to thermo-imaging but the comp reminded him that his target did not emit heat, and therefore he would not see him. He grimaced slightly, realizing that he had over-looked something important; a slight blush rose on his face. He was about to rise when his ears picked up the chuckle on the wind. It was little more then a memory, but he heard it none the less. He slumped to the ground as the comp revealed an immediate map of the area. He studied the ideal route of assault and cross -checked his decision with that of the comp, they were in agreement. He repositioned himself, 30 yards to his right: straight up the path, right in the front door. He figured it would take him about 4 to 5 seconds to get to the doorway, so he would have to use utmost stealth. That was more then enough time for his quarry to respond to his assault. His target had hearing almost as good as his, no-doubt. The comp sensed his readiness, and got things going. His adrenal network came online, flooding his body with a low-level of tailored adrenaline, pre-paring his body. Recumbent anabolic steroid reserve cells went into production. He sprang forward with out a sound and ran at the door as if fired from the barrel of a gun. As he hit the path he was aware of numbers growing larger in the bottom left hand corner of his vision: so he was being timed. He allowed himself a smile as he came up to the opening and sprang through the door, The expensively dressed figure was not as surprised, as he should have been, Ballard had been watching the door to begin with. His sensitive ears picked up a faint sound that registered itself as a footfall just as a blur came through the doorway. He came through the door head first, four inch long alloy claws slid out of his fingers, sharpened to surgical levels. His hands in front of him hoping to gut the target before it had a chance to react, then quickly remove it's head. Ballard melted into the shadow of the room as if he had never been, this skill had been an automatic reaction, tailored over years, he'd become quite adept at doing it, more so then most others of his kind. Ballard ducked to his left and lashed out with his foot in a blinding kick to the attacker's face. The comp had anticipated this movement however and had pinged the room as soon as he had entered, he was still aware of the figures movements even though he could no longer see them. The comp pinged constantly parceling together an image in his eyes so that he could see the outline of a figure dancing to it's left and lashing out with it's foot. Even with his chipped reflexes, his modified nervous system, he wasn't fast enough to dodge the blow. The flat of the figures booted foot caught him across the bridge of the nose, crunching his head back on his neck and sending his body across the room to crash into the wall. The results were not one-sided however. Ballard delivered a blow he figured would have crushed this foolhardy assailant's face, but instead it felt as if he had kicked a steel wall. he stumbled backwards loosing his balance, slightly shocked. He was loosing consciousness, he could feel it slipping away, his nose crushed, blood flowing from it, when the comp took control once again. Organic modifiers that hyperconcentrate viral-induced muscle fibers coursed through the system demanding a maximum level of response. It instantly computed all possible movement for the figure arrived at an acceptable attack routine and executed it. He jumped to his feet, and threw himself up into the air, towards the figure, who had just regained it's balance. As he dropped to the ground he latched onto Ballard's neck and twisted. His momentum and strength spun the figure with enough power to bounce him off one of the stone walls. He rolled out of his fall and lashed out with his leg in a powerful sidekick that crushed Ballard's hip. Expertly following his momentum around he lashed out with his arm clawing the figure across the chest. Ballard knew he was in trouble: this fiend was strong, and very fast. He'd felt his hip shatter under the blow, the pain intense, but nothing he couldn't ignore: it would heal in moments. He wasn't beaten yet however. His left arm shot up to block the clawed attack, at the same time his right arm sliced around in a wide circles, his fist clenched delivering a mighty haymaker to the assailant's nose once again. He swooned as it's fist crunched his nose once again, the power of the blow was mighty, it drove him through the stone wall into the yard beyond. He crashed into the dirt, the air blasted from his lungs, he felt ribs crack. Ballard dove out the hole after him hoping to finish this quickly. He rolled his body over, his pain and shock ignored with the help of the drugs, lifting up with his arms he lashed out with his leg catching the figure in midair. Ballard dropped to the ground, and bounced to his feet, shrugging off the blow, even managing a slight smile. "Cheeky git" he muttered and decided to wipe the smile of Ballard's face literally. He spun around until he was sitting on his behind facing the figure and pointed his right index finger as if he was pretending to fire a gun. Ballard laughed out loud thinking how sad and futile this last movement was, tensed his muscles to pounce and sink his fangs into his neck... the small chemical capsule in the hollow compartment in his fingertip ignited and spat a gout of super-heated plasma into Ballard's face. He roared in pain as his face caught fire and started to melt. He jumped to his feet and slashed quickly with his right hand, and then his left. The screaming stopped as quickly as it had started and as Ballard fell to the ground. His head, still aflame rolled a few feet leaving flaming droplets on the ground. The clock stopped in his head, the time read 9.5 seconds: from beginning to end. The comp brought his adrenal system to a halt, and let the drugs ebb from his system. He began to shake, then the pain in his face hit him and he screamed and dropped to his knees clutching his ruined visage. The shaking grew worse, and he started to wretch violently. The comp took drastic measures and flooded him with morphine and then a sedative. Slowly he lost consciousness, the comp sent out a coded radio-spurt and then went-offline. Several minutes later, a mattblack helicopter roared over head, landing in the field next to the farmhouse. As it touched ground a group of fatigued soldiers leapt out fanning through the area. They retrieved his comatose body, the severed head and headless body of the figure, and returned to the helicopter, witch lifted and soon disappeared. well that was fun.